Per the South China Morning Post, the latest official data showed Hongkongers tend to delay getting married or having babies. The situation even worsened last year.

According to the Census and Statistics Department published on Thursday, the crude marriage rate stood at 6.7 per 1,000 for women and 8.0 per 1,000 for men last year, thus hitting a 30-year low.  

That was a sharp drop from 15.5 for women and 17.6 for men in 2011, and from 12.6 for women and 14.8 for men in 2016.

Regarding the age of marriage, last year, the average age at first marriage was 30.6 for women and 32.2 for men. When comparing this number with 2016 data, women’s average age at first marriage was 29.4, while men’s was 31.4.

This indicates both men and women tend to get married at a later age.

Moreover, the number of births also fell to its lowest level in 30 years.

Live births stood at 36,953 last year, a steep decrease from 60,856 in 2016. This number in 2011 was 95,451.

Population expert Paul Yip Siu-fai told the South China Morning Post in February that young couples in Hong Kong delayed having children due to the education system, tiny living spaces, and recent developments in the city.

Communications manager Matt Leung (pseudonym), 40, said that he and his wife decided not to start a family. The decision came after he considered the city’s political and social situation.

He said, “My wife and I all along disliked the education system, and we became more determined not to have a baby after the national security law was implemented.”

They both intended to start a family after they settled down in Canada.

Assistant marketing manager Victoria Cheung, 29, told Hongkongfp that she does not want to have children. She continued by saying she had given up on having a better future.

She stated, “My desire to have kids has definitely fallen below zero. I can’t see a way out for Hong Kong, and I don’t want my kids to live in a place that has no future.”

Her words came as China wants to implement a national security law that bypasses Hong Kong’s legislative process. As a result, the “one country, two systems” model could be further affected.

Experts also revealed other reasons contributing to the worrying data. Accordingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all walks of life- from financial instability and travel restrictions. This discouraged people from starting a family or getting married.

Daniel Wang, a 29-year-old from Hong Kong, works more than ten hours every day despite his monthly salary being just up to HK$20,000 (about 2,550 dollars). He said with such a low income, he could only have enough money for himself, let alone a wife and family or buying a home.

Dr. Xu Duoduo, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), said, “The decreasing marriage and birth rates and the postponing of the age of marriage have been a long-term trend in Hong Kong.”

She said that the trends were a reflection of the “demographic transition” of Hong Kong and other developed economies. As a result, individual well-being is a priority, while many better-educated women decide to delay getting married.

Xu added that the high cost of living in Hong Kong and expensive home prices contribute to the factors that many people have chosen not to get married.

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